Buying Books

>> Sunday, May 24, 2009

So - I said I was going to stay away from the Book Fair here at Congress ...and other than a visit there with Ross yesterday when we checked in (2 new books) I have.

Can I help it if authors bring their new books to the sessions too?

And if they are books that will help me with my Phd thesis so I just HAVE to buy them? Of course I do!

The last session I attended today was particularly interesting - it was a book launch for three new books - and even though all three sounded very interesting, I only bought one of them.

Taking Back  Our Spirits by Jo-Ann EpiskenewIt is called Taking Back Our Spirits: Indigenous Literature, Public Policy, and Healing by Jo-Ann Episkenew. I haven't read much of it yet, of course...I've been altogether too busy attending sessions and socializing - but I am very much looking forward to reading it. It, according to the back cover

traces the links between Canadian public policies, the injuries they have inflicted on indigenous people, and the role of indigenous literature in healing individuals and communities. Episkenew examines contemporary autobiography, fiction, and drama to reveal how these texts respond to and critique public policy, and how literature functions as "medicine" to help cure the colonial contagion.

In other words, it is about the function - and practical application - of fiction. And the author was there to sign it for me. Of course, I had to have it.

The Story Species by Joseph GoldThe Story Species, too, is about the function of fiction - literature as a "species survival tool". This one was written by Dr. Joseph Gold, who also wrote Read For Your Life, which is an incredible book that I have read - and cited - many times and will continue to use as I move into my doctorate. Oh, and he is here at Congress as well, and was willing to sign it for me. Of course, I had to have it.

Editing Modernity by Dean Irvine
Another book that we bought is Editing Modernity: Women and Little Magazine Cultures in Canada, 1916 - 1956, by Dean Irvine. He is the Director of Editing Modernism in Canada - a large project funded by SSHRC. I am attending 3 weeks of training that is all being offered through this project - and my RA at the National Archives of Canada, which I am having meetings about tomorrow - all of that is also under the EMiC project as well. So - duh - of course I had to have THAT book.

An Unrehearsed Desire by Lauren B. DavisAnd...well...with all that heavy academic reading .... obviously I also had to have a copy of Lauren B. Davis' novel, An Unrehearsed Desire. Contrast, you know. I met Lauren at last year's Leacock Festival in Orillia...and have been following her blog since then... so when Exile was offering it for only $10 at the book fair....


I Will Be Back

>> Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sorry for my lack of posts lately ...but am going to Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2009 in Ottawa next week and plan to attend several CanLit-related talks... so look for updates soon.


Do You Use Hubpages?

>> Thursday, May 14, 2009

Apparently at some point about six weeks ago, I signed up for a hubpages account - and promptly forgot about it.

This week, I've come across quite a few bloggers talking about hubpages, so I went back and had another look.

I put up four quick pages.... but no real sense of whether it's worth continuing to add to them... seems to me I have enough with my blogs... but we shall see, I guess.

My hubs are:

Do you use hubpages? As a primary source of income, or as backlink builders?


Dissertations & Thesis

>> Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today I have been wandering through Proquest's online database of dissertations & theses finding tons of stuff that I can use for my major research paper and for my Phd thesis topic.

I like working with dissertations & theses, even though they tend to be several hundred pages longer than the journal articles I could be using. In part, I find them useful for the depth of the information they provide - but also, I figure that if I'm going to have to write one, I might as well be reading them so that I will have a better idea of what my end goal is.

While I haven't found any that are directly related to my own topics - which is actually a good thing, since if my topic(s) had been done already, there wouldn't be any point to ME doing them - there are plenty that are relevant. An added benefit, of course, is that they often point me to other articles that I can use.

So ... it is more than a little time consuming - but in the long run, will make my major research paper - and eventually my thesis - just that much better. At least that is the plan.


Les Miserables

>> Saturday, May 9, 2009

No, it's not Canadian ... but this Canadian loves Les Miserables... and since that is what I am doing today .... listening to Les Mis rather than reading anything, I thought I would post a bit about it.

Have you seen it? I know Stephanie has ... and I have gone to see it every few years ...seems to me it should be about time for Les Mis to hit Toronto again! Not quite sure how long ago it was here last though ... I know Ross & I went, so has to be within the last 8 years.

We like musicals - have been to about one a year since we met, although not this year! Might have to do something about that.

Anyway, there are lots of musicals that I enjoy - but none has ever challenged Les Mis for its spot as number #1. I own the Dream Cast version pictured here - it is excellent. I especially enjoy Act #2 and listen to it about twice as often as I do the first side - typically, I start at the beginning... but then when it's over I don't want it to be over so I start side #2 again. Oh, and I love the encore in this one, too. They have Jean Valjean's from all over the world singing ...including Canadian Michael there... Canadian content after all :)


Virtual Freedom by Sean Kane

>> Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Still not reading much .... no attention span for it... but thought I would tell you about Virtual Freedom by Sean Kane, a novel that I read more than a year ago, as I just happened to see it on my newly organized CanLit shelves.

Published in 2001, Virtual Freedom was particularly interesting for me because it was written by a Trent U professor, and set in a fictional university called Avalon. It is dedicated to Thomas H.B. Symons, the Founding President of Trent, and the person that our graduate students lecture series is named after. Since at the time I purchased it, I had been accepted at Trent, but not yet been there, it was a natural choice when I saw it on a 4 for $20 table at my undergrad university's book sale.

The novel is an enjoyable read, with many very funny passages. I particularly remember the scenes involving a group of retired professors holding court - in a food court at a local mall. And student protests, and the interactions between the new Dean and students, particularly one who is all about women's issues..... hmmm...I think that now I have talked myself into reading it again.


Survival by Margaret Atwood

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

Survival, by Margaret Atwood, is not a new book. It was originally published in 1972 - the edition I have been reading this week was published in 2004 by McClelland & Stewart, and includes a new introduction by Atwood.

Survival, I think, should be required reading for any student of Canadian Literature. It wasn't for me - it has been referenced several times throughout the course of my studies, and we were given a chapter of it to read for my first CanLit course - but really, the book is so important, that now that I've read it I can't imagine that I would ever teach Canadian literature and not include it on the syllabus.

I am glad I ordered it... I've actually had it sitting here for several months ...just didn't get to reading it until all of my papers and marking were done.

ANYWAY, in a comment thread somewhere that I can no longer find, we were talking about differences between US and Canadian lit... and that the US tends towards a frontier mentality - good vs evil; conquering, all that good stuff - while Canadian literature tends to focus on survival.

All of that is discussed in Atwood's Survival. Not that she takes credit for coming up with all of the concepts - she clearly states that she is, in this work, drawing on the work of Northtop Frye (the other book I bought with this one and will likely talk about sometime soon) and others.

In the 2004 Introduction, Atwood writes:

We now take it for granted that Canadian literature is an acknowledged category, but this proposition was not always self-evident. To have any excuse for being, the kind of book I had in mind had to prove several points. First, that, yes, there was a Canadian literature - such a thing did indeed exist. (This turned out to be a radical proposition, and was disputed by many when the book appeared.) Second, that this body of work was not just a feeble version of English or American, or, in the case of francophone books, of French literature, but that it had different preoccupations, which were specific to its own history and geopolitics (6).
The book provides exactly that - evidence and examples to prove that there is such a thing as Canadian literature, and highlight its differences. Each chapter builds on the original themes of survival, and especially victim/victimizer. I was particularly interested in chapters dealing with First People, women and "the paralyzed artist" - but have found every chapter interesting and relevant.

This is a highly readable and entertaining book - SUCH a relief after all of the theory and other assorted forms of academic torture I have been reading over the past year....and it really is not at all as dated as one might expect of something written more than 30 years ago. In fact, it is not at all dated.

I highly recommend Margaret Atwood's Survival for anyone interested in Canadian literature.


Coal and Roses by P.K. Page

>> Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coal and Roses by PK Page
Coal and Roses is P.K. Page's newest book of poetry. It includes a collection of twenty-one glosas, and is published by Canadian publisher Porcupine's Quill.

The glosa form opens with a quatrain, borrowed from another poet, that is then folowed by four ten-line stanas terminating with the lines of the initial passage in consecutive order. The sixth and ninth lines rhyme with the borrowed tenth. Glosas were popular in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries among poets attached to the Spanish Court.

P.K. Page's glosas are highly readable and enjoyable - one does not need a degree in English literature to understand and enjoy them. My particular favourite in this book is "How to Write a Poem" which builds off of a quatrain of John Ashbury's "Paradoxes and Oxymorons" It was one of the three glosas read by writer Andrea Johnston at yesterday's book launch.

Page did not attend the dedication and book launch, although several family members were there, and she did record a video which was viewed as part of the dedication ceremony.

The Colloquium Room in which most of the classes and meetings for the Trent University English Public Texts M.A. program are held is now officially called the Page Irwin Colloquium Room. It was a beautiful room already, but is even more remarkable now that it includes several of PK's paintings - and my favourite piece, which is an embroidered work that PK's mother did of some of her childhood drawings.

There was another book launched at the same event. This one is gorgeous but was way out of my price range, unfortunately. It is called The Golden Lilies, Poems by PK Page, and is a limited edition:

Hand-set 18 point Cloister Old Style type printed on St. Armand hand-made paper using a Vandercook #4 proof press. Wood engravings printed directily from the blocks on Iwami White hand-made Japanese paper, with a hand coloured frontspiece printed on Gampi Torinoko hand-made Japanese paper. Hand sewin into yellow linen hard covers. Binding by Taylor & Murdoch.

The book is truly a work of art and I would love to own a copy. Maybe someday!


Canadian Modernist Poets - PK Page

>> Friday, May 1, 2009

PK Page Canadian Poet and Artist
Poetry has never really been my thing... I did study it in school, and I have written some... but will all there is to study in Canadian literature, I tend to head off in other more interesting to me directions.

But now that I have a new job - and one which will, I think, significantly enhance my CV - I shall have to pay more attention.

I have been offered a Research Assistantship with The National Archives of Canada, and will be working on Canadian Modernist Poetry, and especially with the many works of poet and artist PK Page. My role will be to tag digital images of her work and to create a database linking the finding aids to those images. At this point, I don't know all that much about tagging digital images - but since that is the focus of my three weeks of summer school, I will learn.

Tomorrow, we're off to Peterborough to the official dedication of the Page Irwin Colloquium Room at Trent. That's the room used for most of the classes for the MA in English Public Texts program, so I know it well.

The event will also be a book launch for 2 new works:

Coal and Roses is a collection of new poems published by The Porcupine's
and The Golden Lilies is a selection of eight of these poems, with ten
wood engravings by Alan Stein hand printed at The Church Street Press.

PK Page was born in 1916 and is still publishing and still painting at 92. She has more than 37 published books to her credit, numerous awards and honours, and her art hangs in the National Gallery of Canada, among other places. I am looking forward to it.

Blog Makeover by LadyJava Creations